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Wheel Of Time Showrunner Opens Up About That Jaw-Dropping Death In Episode 1

Amazon's "Wheel of Time" series has finally arrived on Prime Video, and fans of the original book series by Robert Jordan have been impressed with the scale of the high fantasy series. The first three episodes of the show debuted on Amazon's streaming service on November 19, and from that point forward, it will be using the traditional weekly release model for the rest of the season. "The Wheel of Time" is definitely one to watch, since it currently holds an 83% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, although the reviews haven't been as kind, since it also has a 68% critic rating on the aggregate site. CNN's Brian Lowry writes "The characters simply don't possess enough pop to draw in those who don't come immersed in the mythology, and the special effects are uneven." But Amazon Studios is clearly impressed with the show, since it has already been renewed for a second season, so the "Wheel" will keep turning for now.

Like most book-to-TV adaptations, "The Wheel of Time" has had to make some significant changes to the source material. However, many audiences familiar with the books were stunned by a particular death in Episode 1, "Leavetaking," since it marks a huge departure from the original story.

Perrin kills Laila

In "The Wheel of Time" premiere, a band of Trollocs (monstrous orc-like beasts) gate-crash a party in Emond's Field causing chaos and bloodshed. In the ensuing battle, the blacksmith Perrin Aybara goes into a violent frenzy — something readers of the books will be very familiar with, as the character often struggles with his own inner-demons. But in the TV adaptation, he winds up accidentally killing his wife, Laila Aybara (Helena Westerman). 

When speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, showrunner Rafe Judkins reveals why the writers decided to give Perrin such a violent outburst. "Well, there's a scene in the books where Perrin says, like, 'If I had stayed in the Two Rivers for a few more years instead of leaving, I think I would have married Laila Dearn.' And so that's what we took as inspiration."

The showrunner also added, "For this character that's extremely internal — you really never get to hear his internal monologue that out loud in the book — we give him a moment at the beginning of the series where you understand why he, across the course of the series, has such a struggle with violence." It's all character development, though it pushes "Wheel of Time" into "fridging" territory (I.E., killing off a character's love interest as a way of giving them something to overcome).

However, as Judkins points out, the book only focused on Rand al'Thor (Josha Stradowski) instead of the entire cast of characters. "So in the books, you only know what happened to one character on Winter Night," adding "but in the show we are seeing what might have happened to each of these characters during that battle, which, it's not creating something that wasn't there. It happened." So, Laila's death was part of expanding the story.